When the ONES We Love Don’t Love the ONE We Love

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We’ve all hoped that we strike a good in-law deal, that our parents accept our fiancé/e, and that our life-long friends will be excited about our newest love interest. From the 16th century tale of Romeo and Juliet to the modern theme of the Spice Girls (“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends”), it seems that there is a universal awareness that relationships require approval. But why is the approval of others so important to our romantic relationships?

Relationship research has shown that “perceived network support” (i.e.: believing that your family and friends approve of your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife/ partner) is associated with increased love, commitment, relationship quality, and stability over time. Simply stated: the social support we receive from others makes our relationships better and can actually change the trajectory of our romance. It’s easier to develop love when that love is approved of by those we respect and hold close. But let’s face it: not all are lucky enough to live in the ideal world where everyone loves everyone and lives happily ... Read more »

The 3 Worst Couples You’ll Ever Meet

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When I was 4 years old someone told me I had to get married someday. I cried for hours on my mother’s lap while she tried to comfort me by saying I never had to get married if I didn’t want to. This fear of marriage stayed with me for most of my life, and I justified it by pointing out all the terrible couples I saw around me. Why on earth would I get married just to end up like them? I eventually realized that many couples have perfectly happy and healthy marriages.  I also realized that many of these “terrible” couples were simply like most of us, experiencing the ups and downs of a normal relationship.  

Who are these couples and is everything about them really that terrible? Let me summarize some of the more common types of marriages we see.  You’ll likely see yourself and your relationship in some of these descriptions.    

Overly Reactive Who?

This couple is like the high school sweethearts who dominated the halls with their screaming matches or passionate kissing; everything is at 100% ... Read more »

The 100% Relationship Guarantee

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We have all seen some television ad claiming that if you try some product the company is willing to give a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee!”  If you buy their product and aren’t completely satisfied, you can return it, get your money back, and pretend the purchase never happened.  

As this tactic is so extremely prevalent in our modern culture, you would have to live in the middle of the wilderness somewhere to avoid seeing it used. In fact, this method seems to have become part of how we treat other aspects of life as well.

Especially relationships.

However, I would like to share with you the harsh reality revealed across relationship studies: there is no 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, and trying to find one is 99% sure to fail. (Like 53% of statistics, the 99% is made up on the spot).  Here are three reasons why we want a guarantee in our relationships and why such thinking may cause more problems than we think.

No Need to Commit

Companies often use the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee tactic to build a new customer base.  It provides ... Read more »

To Fall in Love with Anybody Try This…

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Did you know you can fall in love with someone simply by asking them 36 personal questions? Such a concept was first introduced in 1997 by researcher Arthur Aron and has been producing results in participants since then.

The set up is simple. A heterosexual man and woman enter a lab separately, they sit face-to-face and ask a series of increasingly more personal questions, taking turns to answer. They then hold silent eye contact with each other for four minutes. As simple and silly as may sound, there have been significant results, the most notably being two participants who were married six months after completing the experiment.

But what is so magical and romantic about this study? Does it matter what 36 questions are asked or how they are answered? According to the study’s authors, yes. The 36 questions are separated into three sets, with each set becoming more personal than the last. The concept that the study is based on is that mutual vulnerability creates closeness. As Dr. Aron explains,

“One key pattern associated with the development of ... Read more »

How to Have a Terrible Breakup

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Every relationship you get into in life appears to be unique. Even if you have a certain type of person you always seem to date, one boyfriend or girlfriend is rarely exactly the same as the other. The same can be said for the breakup. At the close of one particular romantic relationship during my undergrad, I was shocked to find myself devastated not by the breakup that had just happened, but instead by a relationship that had ended 6 months before. The older relationship seemed significant enough for me to mourn twice, while the newer one I shrugged off with ease. This left me with a lot of questions, the most important two being: Has this happened to anyone else? and Am I simply a terrible person?

It turns out, there are different ways to manage (and perceive) a breakup. Some lead to devastating mourning periods mixed with pain that lasts for years, while others make the pain a little easier to take.

How to Have a Terrible Breakup.

“I am unloveable”

There are usually a few reasons behind a ... Read more »

Playing the Love Game

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If you were to do a Google search on “love is a game,” you would find a large number of quotes from authors, philosophers, musicians, and everyday people who have felt like love is just a game.

“Love is a losing game.”  

“Love is a game in which one always cheats.”

“Love is a game that two can play and both win.”

So is love really just a game?  How is it possible that some believe it is always a losing game while others believe two can win?  What strategies can we use to make sure we are winners?

According to a recent study by Mons Bendixen and Leif Kennair from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, there are two main strategies we often use to find love and attract potential partners.  What do these two strategies look like and do they both work?  If not, which one will make you a winner?

Competitor Derogation

Competitor derogation is the strategy of making others look less attractive than ourselves.  Name calling, spreading rumors, or pointing out a rivals more negative qualities are all examples of ... Read more »

Dating and Dogs

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Anyone who knows me knows that dogs are my favourite part of the world. If someone had proposed to me before my husband just by offering me a puppy and a ring, I would have almost certainly said yes.

As terrible as that may seem, it appears that I’m not entirely alone in my love for animals affecting how I date. A recent study entitled “The Roles of Pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating” concluded that women find pet owners more attractive than non-pet owners.

The study relied on the results of questionnaires completed by 2,300 users of Match.com

The gist of it


more likely to have been attracted to someone because he had a pet. often felt that a relationship could not work with a “cat person”. reported frequently judging a date based on how her pet(s) reacted, and more likely to judge a date based on how they reacted to her pet(s). less likely to date someone who didn’t like pets. more commonly reported being attracted to men with pets in their online dating profile ... Read more »

5 Foundations of Morality

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The majority of us could probably name at least one or two things that you would immediately recognize as hurting a relationship.  And many of us would probably name most of the same things: once you are married, you aren’t supposed to have sex with anyone but your spouse, don’t abuse your partner, and don’t start dating someone else until you have actually ended another relationship.

But have you ever done something that you didn’t think would be a problem, or maybe even thought it would help the relationship, and your partner reacted like you had done one of the worst things possible?

When it comes to how we behave in a relationship, we may find that there are no clear social rules about what is or is not acceptable.  In one relationship, giving someone of the opposite sex a ride to school or work would be just fine, but in another your partner may turn into a jealous monster who wrecks your car and threatens the other person.  This lack of rules can often make relationships confusing and unpredictable.

According to ... Read more »

6 Characteristics of the Marriage-Ready Couple

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If you were asked “how long should a couple date before getting married?” what would you say?  10 months?  2 years?  A week?  The truth is there is no magic number of months or years that make a couple ready for marriage.  Six months may be more than enough time for one couple, but another couple may need six years.

Research shows that couples who are always moving forward in their relationship do experience greater stability and satisfaction than those who hold back from taking important steps.  What really matters is the development of certain skills and characteristics that mature a couple enough to take the next step down the aisle.  So what are these characteristics and how do you know if you are ready?

There is no one study that answers these questions, but a large collection of research highlights some of the most important characteristics of couples who will have the best chance for successfully making the transition into marriage.

Coordinating Life Plans

According to Shmuel Shulman at the Bar Ilan University in Israel1, one of the main events that moves ... Read more »

Creating Couple Safety

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Note: This is a guest post from Dr. Jonathan Sandberg, a professor in FHSS’s School of Family Life. Professor Sandberg is involved in the Marriage and Family Therapy Programs at BYU, a Certified Emotionally Focused Supervisor with the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute, and a licensed marriage and family therapist in Utah.


I once heard from a young person something very insightful, a comment like this: “I guess I am just in love with the feeling of being in love.” Yes, feeling deep love from and for another person is a sublime experience. But, it is about the deep, serene, and settled sense of safety and security that comes with mature romantic love I write about today. That type of safety within a couple relationship has a name; it is called “attachment security”. The concept of secure or insecure attachment actually has its roots in parent-child research. John Bowlby, and later others, proposed that when a child feels a parent is accessible (“I can find you”) and responsive (“you reach out to me and comfort me when I call”), a ... Read more »